The Believer, the monthly whose mission, in part, is to "focus on writers and books we like," has named its finalists for the 2011 Believer Book Award for fiction. Of the five books selected by the magazine's editors as the "strongest and most underappreciated of the year," four are published by small, independent presses.
The shortlisted titles are Jesse Ball's third novel, The Curfew (Vintage), which the Believer's editors describe as "a tortuous snake of a story" that winds up resembling "an ouroboros swallowing its own tail"; Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt (New Directions), a novel "preoccupied with the question of what genius looks like"; Lars Iyer's novel debut, Spurious (Melville House), whose pleasures are evocative of Beckett; Widow (Bellevue Literary Press), the first short story collection from novelist Michelle Latiolais, whose "narrators navigate familiar landscapes rendered nearly impassable by grief"; and Ben Lerner, who has previously published three poetry collections, for his first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station (Coffee House Press).
The winner of the Believer Book Award will be announced in the May 2012 issue. Readers' nominations for best books of 2011 will appear alongside prize announcement.
In the video below, the Center for Fiction and n+1 magazine present a dramatic reading from DeWitt's shortlisted third novel (the second segment of the two-part reading is here).